Politics isn’t always nicer north of the border.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is running for reelection in Canada, was pelted with pebbles as he boarded a bus during a campaign stop in London, Ontario, on Monday evening.
The ugly incident, which appeared to involve about a handful’s worth of light-colored gravel, came as campaigning in the country’s Sept. 20 election approaches its final stretch. Trudeau’s Liberal Party is running in a dead heat with the Conservative Party, according to polls.
As Trudeau departed from a rowdy crowd in London, a hand emerged from above the horde and hurled the substance, according to video posted on social media. It wasn’t clear how much of the gravel struck the leader of the Great White North.
Here's the video of stones being thrown towards the Prime Minister while he was leaving his campaign stop in London, Ontario this evening pic.twitter.com/MNOVHIKMiY— Sarah Sears (@iamSas) September 6, 2021
Trudeau initially shrugged off the episode. He was filmed on a plane dismissing the “little bit” of gravel and questioning whether it mattered whether it hit him or not.
But he responded more forcefully on Tuesday.
“It is absolutely unacceptable,” Trudeau, 49, said in a Tuesday morning news conference. “Nobody should be doing their jobs under the threats of violence or acts that put them in danger.”
He linked the stone shower to a broader protest movement against coronavirus vaccines and public health measures like mask-wearing.
Trudeau, who assumed office almost six years ago, was wearing a dark mask when the gravel-thrower struck.
“It’s not just at political rallies that this is happening,” Trudeau said. “There are health care workers across the country who are getting hassled and intimidated and bullied as they’re going into work to keep people safe and alive. There are store clerks and waitresses and people going about their daily lives getting yelled at and pushed around for wearing masks, for being vaccinated.”
About two-thirds of the Canadian population is fully immunized against COVID, and almost three-quarters of Canadians have received at least one shot, according to COVID-19 Tracker Canada, an independent database.
Trudeau called for a snap election last month, hoping to ride the country’s strong virus response and high vaccination rates to a stronger position in the country’s Parliament.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Justin Tang/)
The prime minister won his second term in the fall of 2019, but his party lost its absolute majority in Parliament, after a campaign that was rocked by old images of Trudeau wearing blackface and brownface.
Trudeau could have waited until 2024 to run again, but he instead opted for the early election. Two debates are scheduled for this week.
On the campaign trail this time around, he has condemned the country’s “anti-vax mobs.”
“Canadians are willing to stand firmly and strongly for the right path forward,” Trudeau said Tuesday. “And what all this is showing is just how very important this moment is of choice for this country on how we finish with this pandemic.”